The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This Thanksgiving, before you carve the turkey, you may take a moment to think about the things you’re thankful for. But what about the things you’re thankful for in your work? After all, work takes up a large part of your life. If you’re a user experience geek like me, you may want to think about all the things that you’re thankful for in user experience. So let’s count our UX blessings:
The user experience of most products, websites, and applications is better than ever.
People are having a better experience than ever with most products, websites, and applications. Things are far from perfect, but we’ve made a big difference in improving the overall user experience over the last 20 years.
UX professionals are needed more than ever.
Although the overall user experience has definitely improved, it hasn’t improved enough that we’re not needed. There will always be a need for someone to focus on user research and designing the user experience. As we move from software and websites to mobile devices, wearable computing, and ubiquitous computing, there are many interesting challenges ahead.
We don’t have to do as much educating and selling UX as we used to.
More people than ever have a general idea of what user experience is and believe in its importance. They may not be able to define user experience, but they are primed to understand what it means with a little explanation. More people than ever know what usability (or at least “ease of us”) is. Even if they don’t know it by the term “user experience,” they can already sense it and value it. It’s easier to explain to people and we are less often challenged to prove its value.
There are more user experience jobs than ever before.
I don’t know this for sure, but it does seem like there are more user experience jobs than ever before, and it seems like that will only increase. There’s room in this field for generalists and specialists.
User experience is a very inclusive field.
User experience is still a very multidisciplined field. We welcome many different specialties and perspectives.
We don’t fight as much as we used to.
Compared to a few years ago, there doesn’t seem to be as much fighting about job titles, definitions, and which field or organization really represents the user experience.
User experience professionals are more connected than ever before.
We have more opportunities to connect with other UX professionals, either in-person or virtually, than ever before. The list of conferences and local events seems to continue to grow with more networking opportunities than ever before. With Twitter and LinkedIn, we can communicate and connect with people that we would never have met or heard from just five years ago.
There are more UX resources to learn from than ever before.
If you want to keep up to date and continue learning, there are more opportunities than ever before. There is a lot of great UX-related content out there, from web magazines, blogs, publications from UX organizations and conferences, and books. UX books have become shorter, more specialized, and aimed at experienced professionals.
We’ve never had better tools.
We’ve never had better tools for user research, prototyping, and design. Tools for remote usability testing, unmoderated testing, card sorting, tree testing, and eyetracking have expanded the type of research we can do. Prototyping and design tools make it easier than ever to create prototypes that we can evaluate with clients and test with users.
We do good work. We are part of a noble calling.
We’re lucky to be in a line of work where we solve interesting problems and help make people’s lives a little better. It may sound corny, but our work is a noble calling. We create better experiences for people. That may be as minor in the grand scheme of things as creating an easy, pleasant online shopping experience; or it may be as serious as preventing major safety errors that could endanger lives. Most of the time it’s somewhere in between, but it’s nice to know that to some degree we’re making the world a better place.